Monday, October 11, 2021

The End of a Man, a Dog and a Gun

My first memory of Ted is he peeing on  me. Now, let me put that into context. I was five years old, and my parents had just brought him home from the hospital, and were changing his wet diaper.

The five year age difference, which doesn't seem so important now, meant that Ted and I weren't particularly close as children. Even when I became a teenager, we had our own friends and social circles. My even younger brother, Mark, and I were both good at games, cards in particular, and Ted refused to participate (it's possible Mark and I were just a little mean). He did, however, follow my interest in fishing and tropical fish. He also sold my books and aquariums when I left for college, and kept to proceeds. 

Once I got into graduate school, we became closer for a while, as he also went to Oregon State University, he seeking an undergraduate degree in wildlife. For a couple of years (we think, we can't really document it), he lived with us in our house in Corvallis. He and I got into deer hunting and target shooting, largely at his instigation. There were years where we rarely ate beef. We also had a lot of good times fishing in Oregon, mostly in the Calapooia River, but in other places as well.

He was also instrumental at getting us into Tai Kwan Do, where he stayed long enough to get a 2nd degree black belt, and I wandered off after achieving my first degree, mostly in an effort to focus on writing my dissertation.

He left the wildlife program without getting a degree, and moved to nearby Lebanon, Oregon, where he, with Dad's assistance, purchased a gun store. At some point, he resold or closed the gun store (I can't really remember which), and took up flying, becoming a instructor for small planes and helicopters. 

Ted and Monika with Bethany (l), Katarina (r)
and Karl (bottom) at Pismo Beach 
It was somewhere in this period that I moved myself, Georgia and Corwin to Florida for a post-doctoral fellowship, and we mostly lost touch, except for news that Mom would tell us, or on occasional (not quite yearly, but almost) visits back to the West Coast. During this period, he went from a flying instructor the small private airfield in Oregon to second seat in a regional airline in California. He got married to his wife, Monika, whom he met in San Luis Obispo, and moved to Murphys, California (where her family lived) and started to pop out kids, first Karl, then Bethany and Katarina. Before the kids, he and Monika visited us once in Southern Maryland, where he humiliated me by catching the largest Gray Trout I had ever seen on night at the power plant.

Ted with the 8#, 28 inch Gray Trout
My parents, seeing old age looming, decided to move closer to Ted and those grandkids. They wanted away from LA, where Mark lived, and where they resided briefly after selling their delightful house in Pismo Beach, and weren't willing to follow us to the East Coast (I don't blame them). They struck a deal with Ted to take care of babysitting the grandkids, if he and Monika would help take care of them in old age, a bargain they accepted and kept 'til the bitter end. Mom was in hog heaven. 

At some point, he lost his job flying (probably a good thing, the hours were crazy), and had to worry about what to do next. I suggest computer work, and, while I don't know if it was because of my advice or not, he settled into a job as a computer, and eventually telephone (mostly computerized these days) specialist) for Sonora County, a hop, skip and long jump from Murphys, where they continued to live around the corner from Mom and Dad.

Still, most of our contacts continued to be at family reunions, mostly in Pismo Beach, but also in Murphys.

Shortly after I started this blog, he decided to begin his own, entitled A Man, A Dog and a Gun. Being a computer guy, he hosted it on his own server at home, using WordPress software. He and I were nominal contributors to each others blog, but other than a single post each, we really didn't do much together any more, although we read, and occasionally commented on each other's posts. It's still running this morning, but I can't predict how long it will last.

In recent years he consulted with us on his retirement plans. Last year, in anticipation of retirement, he had double knee surgery (both knees on the same day) to get it over with. 

This year, on the day before he retired on Aug 1, he went to an urgent care center, with abdominal pains. By the end the day they had seen spots on his liver with a CT scan. In a few subsequent days, they diagnosed liver cancer, and began to work with doctors, but after a visit to Stanford for a complete mapping, they determined it was too far advanced for treatment; anything they could do would not prolong his life or make it any less painful. He cried a little that night, when he called to tell me, and thank me for being a good brother.

A few days later, a  Facebook PM from Katarina, and a call from Karl and Bethany suggested they if we wanted to see Ted and have any hope of interacting with him at all, we should make plans. Hence sudden trip to Murphys amply documented here. It was a bittersweet visit, some good times, but full of sorrow, and I hated to leave, but leave we did, last Monday. Late last night, Karl called to inform us that he and Bethany thought this was Ted's last night.

This morning, when I awoke and got  down to the my phone, a text message from Karl informed me that Ted had passed away. 

In addition to Monika, Karl, Bethany and Katarina, Ted is survived by his beloved Rhodesian Ridgebacks, Riley and Echo.

Goodbye brother!

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